Media Releases
Ben Long
Media Resources

UOW Media Office, T: +61 4221 4227 | E:

Ben Long, Media & Corporate Communications Coordinator, UOW, T: +61 2 4221 3887 | M: +61 409 787 446 | E:

UOW Graduate Medicine wins national teaching award

Program to improve medical student engagement in research and critical analysis recognised as ‘outstanding’

A University of Wollongong (UOW) program that enhances medical students’ engagement in research skill development and training associated with clinical research has received an award at the Federal Department of Education and Training’s annual Australian Awards for University Teaching.

Developed by a team from UOW’s Graduate Medicine School, the Research and Critical Analysis (RCA) Program won a 2016 Award for Programs that Enhance Learning in the category of “innovation and flexibility and curricula, learning and teaching”.

To date, more than 400 research projects have been successfully completed through the RCA program, with over 50 students disseminating their findings in peer-reviewed journals and at national or international conferences.
Program leader Associate Professor Judy Mullan and team members Professor Peter McLennan and Dr Kathryn Weston accepted the award on behalf of the other team members, Dr Warren Rich, Dr Pippa Burns and Ms Shelley Crowther, at a ceremony in Canberra on Thursday night (December 1).

Professor Mullan said the success of the program was reflected in the high quality research projects that the students have completed.

“This award is a wonderful recognition of the hard work the team has put into developing the RCA program,” Professor Mullan said.

“The RCA program has been successful because it has focused on the needs of the students and because we constantly review and evaluate all aspects of it.

“The RCA program builds students’ knowledge and analytical skills while encouraging a research attitude and culture, culminating in the students’ capacity to undertake research and to become future evidence-based practitioners.

“The fact they are getting their research work published, and they are getting to present it at national and international conferences, is a mark of its success. The students have done so well.”

UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Joe Chicharo, who also attended the ceremony, said the award was a testament to the university’s commitment to innovative, high-quality teaching and learning.

“This award is further confirmation of UOW’s position as a leader in innovative, quality teaching and learning in Australia,” Prof Chicharo said.

“The University continues to innovate and has an ongoing commitment to providing a quality education experience to its students.

“The RCA team is a great team and this award and the success of this program is due to the hard work, commitment and dedication they have shown. It is programs like this that keep UOW ahead of the curve.”

The award was presented by the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham, who in a statement about the program said: “The Research and Critical Analysis Program is recognised as one of Australia’s most outstanding university programs, contributing to the quality of student learning and student experience in higher education.”


The Research and Critical Analysis (RCA) program at the University of Wollongong (UOW) is a core theme integrated through all four Phases of the medical course. It aims to surpass an Australian Medical Council curriculum standard to encourage, prepare and support student engagement in medical research.

RCA team members assist students to build research and critical analysis skills in Phases One and Two through large group video-conference teaching sessions, assessment tasks and the tight integration of learning activities within the medical curriculum.

By Phase Three, all students are able to undertake a contextually relevant medical research project. The students select and research a topic of their choice while on regional/rural clinical placement at any one of eleven research hubs across NSW, supported and mentored by RCA team members, fellow academics and clinical preceptors.

A key factor in program sustainability is critical research collaboration partnerships forged by the RCA team with hospital and primary care clinicians who are interested in research capacity building. The team is now broadening its curriculum focus to strengthen partnerships that will ensure the sustainability of student links with the professional community.

The RCA team began focusing on the needs of medical students more than eight years ago in response to student feedback. Subsequently, the team have iteratively designed and refined a program that is unique in the extent to which it is integrated with the curriculum, and gears students for an authentic and self-selected research experience when on clinical placement.

In 2015, the RCA team received a national Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, as well as the University of Wollongong Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Teaching and Learning (OCTAL).


The Australian Awards for University Teaching recognise quality teaching practices and outstanding contributions to student learning. Recipients, with the support of their institutions, further contribute to systemic change in learning and teaching through ongoing knowledge sharing and dissemination. There are five Award programs recognising teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to student learning:

⎯ Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning
⎯ Awards for Programs that Enhance Learning
⎯ Awards for Teaching Excellence
⎯ Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year
⎯ Career Achievement Award